Matriark Foods – Anna Hammond Interview

2020-10-01 Anna photographed by Kay Hickman

Matriark Foods: Woman Owned, Upcycled, Vegetable Broth Company

About four months ago I was involved in a case study about Matriark Foods with Drexel University and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. It was there that I met Anna Hammond via Zoom and learned about her business, Matriark Foods.  They have been working towards scaling access to healthy food for the benefit of people and the environment for almost three years. Their primary product is an upcycled vegetable broth concentrate that is dense in flavor, low in sodium, and made from vegetable remnants. By working with farmers and food service providers, their broth makes use of the 40% of the vegetables that would otherwise go to waste. 

Q:  So how did you become aware and interested in food waste?

A: I built a healthy eating program for youths and families living in public housing in New York City, in all five boroughs and an educational program at a farm Upstate…I was working with youths and families who had an enormous desire to eat healthy food, but had no access because of food deserts… the beginning of Matriark was developing a business that could utilize large scale amounts of surplus which then became also additionally, upstream waste streams into healthy, affordable products. Affordable is key for lots of people.

Q: What are obstacles that come with working with food waste? And what obstacles have you faced specifically?

A: What obstacles have we not? Supply chain, paperwork, sourcing, getting things from one place to another intact storage against production, failures of the production facility, getting product to market distribution. And literally every challenge that there is practically in creating a product or getting something to market, including the volatility of the product itself… we’ve met those challenges and scaled those walls. I think that why we’ve been able to be successful is that there is a zeitgeist right now around the urgency to do something about the environment. And food waste is one of the most kind of accessible, or seemingly accessible, ways to do that.

Q: What are your goals for Matriark in the future? And what do you think you can accomplish? 

A:  Our vision is to become a multi-channel business that really works on these three, in these three ways. To upcycle as much vegetable waste as we can, and create a variety of types of affordable, healthy food to large numbers of people. 

Q: What do you think an individual person or consumer could do to actually create an impact in their own food waste?

A: Well, one of the largest contributors to food waste is home waste. So being much more careful about planning your meals ahead, to reduce food waste, but also to think about what you’re buying….people need to understand that the littlest action that they take cumulatively will have a very big effect, you know, either through the cumulative effect of the action, or because their action inspires someone else, also to act. On that note, I say, everyone should vote.